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Defects-Design Cases Summarized By Product Liability Lawyer

 The cases below are a compilation of cases from the Virginia Supreme Court summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of design defects and the related topic of product laibility.

1996 Morgen Indus., Inc., v. Vaughan, 252 Va. 60, 471 S.E.2d 489.

Plaintiff injured in course of using construction equipment. To recover under either negligence or breach of implied warranty theory, plaintiff must show that product was unreasonably dangerous for use to which ordinarily put or for some other reasonably foreseeable purpose and that this condition existed when the goods left manufacturer’s hands. Product is unreasonably dangerous if it is defective in assembly or manufacture, unreasonably dangerous in design or unaccompanied by adequate warning concerning its hazardous properties. Plaintiff presented expert testimony as to defect and that such defect was cause of plaintiff’s injury. Particular defect in question was absence of wheel guards. Defendant’s argument that modifications made by plaintiff’s employer relieved defendant of liability is without merit since there was no evidence that these caused plaintiff’s injury. Verdict for plaintiff upheld.

1982 Ford Motor Co. v. Bartholomew, 224 Va. 421, 297 S.E.2d 675.

Plaintiff awarded damages for design defect in automobile transmission that caused vehicle to slip into reverse gear. Absent established norm in industry, it was matter of opinion of trained experts what design was safe for its intended use.

1979 Featherall v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 219 Va. 949, 252 S.E.2d 354.

No merit to plaintiff’s claim that manufacturer negligently designed its equipment. No evidence that when regulator left control of manufacturer with safety lockout in place in adjusting screw, product mechanically defective. Manufacturer not required to supply accident-proof product.

1962 General Bronze Corp. v. Kostopulos, 203 Va. 66, 122 S.E.2d 548.

Doors alleged defective. They were manufactured per design and were tested extensively. No showing of duty owed by manufacturer to ultimate user in design and construction of door.

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